Thermal imaging cameras: A cost effective solution for perimeter protection
Today, the challenge to CCTV professionals is to make sure that video footage is effective on a 24/7 basis, 365 days a year. Securing an area during the daytime is one thing. But what can be detected if CCTV cameras are blinded by the sun? And in weather conditions like fog, rain and snow? And what happens during the night, in total darkness?
A number of tools are available to help detect potential intruders in the dark. Often different technologies are being combined to create a secure perimeter. Fences can be complemented with Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) systems with or without active infrared illumination or old fashioned light bulbs, Radio Frequency Intruder Detection (RAFID) systems, thermal imaging cameras and/or walking patrols. Every technology has advantages and disadvantages and some are more expensive than others. To get a full picture of the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for a certain solution, not only the initial installation cost but also the maintenance cost needs to be taken into account.
An excellent tool for detecting potential intruders in total darkness is thermal imaging cameras. They need no light whatsoever to operate. Based on subtle differences in temperature, called heat signatures, thermal imaging cameras create a crisp image. A thermal imaging camera can also see through light fog and smoke.
Thermal imaging cameras are also extremely useful during daylight. Thermal contrast is extremely difficult to mask. Someone trying to hide in shadows or bushes and people that are trying to camouflage themselves, will become clearly visible on a thermal image. Thermal imaging cameras are also not blinded by the glare from the sun. They produce a crisp image in practically all weather conditions.
Thermal imaging cameras and video analytics
Thermal imaging cameras work seamlessly together with video analytics. One of
the advantages of thermal imaging cameras is that they are always producing a
high-contrast image. Not only during the night. Also in difficult light conditions
where CCTV cameras are giving hardly any contrast. Thermal imaging cameras are generating fewer unwanted alarms then CCTV cameras. This makes thermal imaging perfect to work together with video analytics.
Thermal imaging: an affordable technology
Demand for thermal imaging cameras has increased drastically over the last few years. Thanks to this increase in demand, production volumes have gone up and prices for thermal imaging cameras have come down.
Although a thermal imaging camera is still more expensive than a CCTV camera, fewer cameras need to be deployed to cover the same area. The civil works that need to be carried out are minimal. Furthermore, since thermal imaging cameras produce a clear image in the darkest of nights, no complimentary technologies like light or infrared illuminators need to be installed. Not only is this limiting the amount of civil works that needs to be carried out but is it also reducing the maintenance cost.
Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for thermal imaging is extremely low
Although the initial price for a thermal imaging camera is still a bit higher, they do not require any maintenance. Most FLIR Systems thermal imaging cameras contain an uncooled Vanadium Oxide detector. Not only produces it excellent quality thermal images, since it is not containing any moving parts, it needs no maintenance.
Furthermore, compared to the power needed for lighting up an entire area or the power that is being consumed by infrared illuminators, certainly if at least some range performance is required, the power consumption of thermal imaging cameras is minimal.
Finally, there is no need to replace lamps or infrared illuminators. CCTVs with infrared illuminators require lamp replacement every 2000 to 4000 hours or about every 8 months.